Here are some recommendations you can provide to your patients to help them prevent fungal infection of their toenails, according to dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
“Fungal nail infections are common and tend to run in families because of an inherited tendency, although not everyone is susceptible,” said Dr. Zeichner, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. “Since fungal nail infections are contagious, it’s important [people] to take precautions to reduce [their] risk of getting an infection.”
To prevent toenail fungal infections, Dr. Zeichner recommends the following tips to patients:
Keep your toenails trimmed short. This helps prevent debris from building up under the nails and minimizes the risk of nail injuries. It is recommended that nails be cut straight across to keep them strong and to prevent them from becoming ingrown.
Wear shoes that properly fit. Footwear should never touch a person’s toenails. In addition, it is recommended that people alternate the shoes that they wear every day to ensure that their footwear has an opportunity to air out.
Choose breathable footwear. Fungus thrives in warm, moist areas, like in hot sweaty shoes. He recommends that sandals be worn whenever possible. If socks must be worn, choose ones that wick moisture away from the skin.
Use antifungal sprays or powders. Spray or sprinkle the products inside shoes and on socks before putting the shoes on to control sweat that can prompt fungal infections. This is especially important in hot weather or before a workout.
Avoid going barefoot in public facilities such as pools and locker rooms. Even when taking a shower in a public place, it’s important to wear shower shoes or flip flops, as the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, ringworm and other skin conditions may be present on the floor.
Never wear someone else’s shoes or share nail clippers and files.
“Nail fungus is better prevented than treated,” Dr. Zeichner said, who was quoted in a press release.
He concluded that if caught early, nail fungus may resolve using an over-the-counter antifungal cream, lotion, gel or lacquer. He noted, however, that most fungal nail infections require prescription antifungal medications. Laser treatments are also being used.
These tips are demonstrated in the video “How to Prevent and Treat Nail Fungus,” which can be found on the AAD website and YouTube channel.